03.11.11 Happy 50th Birthday Ken!

    Don’t know if you’ve heard, but Barbie and Ken are back together.  Despite the designer gowns and various wedding ensembles, this long-term couple never actually tied the knot, and in fact broke up in 2004.  Rumor has it Barbie left to follow her many pursuits, making her 126th career change to News Anchor in 2010.   
    While not as groundbreaking as becoming an Astronaut in 1964 or running for President in 1990, this plastic icon was way too busy being Barbie to be in a relationship.  No longer satisfied with being just another  accessory, Ken needed a “break” too.  “I don’t know what happened,” says Ken.  “One day we were together and the next day we weren’t.”
  Following his show-stealing performance in Toy Story 3, in which he and Barbie starred opposite each other, fellow cast member, Woody, had this to say about Ken.  “He was robbed!”  Though Ken did not bringing home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (sadly, he wasn't even nominated) watch his performance in "Meet Ken") and tell me you don't agree.
    Toy Story 3 received 5 nominations in all, winning Best Animated Feature.Pixar goes down in history as only the 3rd animated feature ever nominated for Best Picture. 
    How do you follow the success of being #1 at the box office in 2010?  “I’m just a guy in love with a girl,” says Ken of his 52-year-old girlfriend, Barbie.  After the movie wrapped Ken and Barbie went their separate ways once again.  But soon found each other on  You think I’m kidding <g>.
Playing on his newfound popularity Mattel launched a reality series on Hulu called Genuine Ken.  Meanwhile, Ken embarked on a social media campaign on youtube, facebook, foursquaare and twitter to win back the girl of his dreams.
  On Valentine’s Day, February 14th 2011, She Said Yes!TM
“Ken was so cute,” says Barbie.  “He took out billboard ads in New York and Los Angles.  How could I say, no?”
Will wedding bells finally ring for this happy couple?
“I don’t know,” says Ken.
Still a bachelor at the time of this article, Ken turns THE BIG 50 on March 11th 2011.  Ken Carson is from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin.  At an original cost $3.50, he sported red swim trunks for his 1961 debut and in 1978 appeared in a blue polyester jumpsuit.  “Please, I’d like to forget the 70’s.”  Known for his metro-sexual fashion sense--after a 2006 makeover--he had this to say.  “I don’t see anyone picking on that Justin Bieber doll across the aisle.”  
    Ah, Ken, that's you.
  If Ken’s a little touchy it’s because his sexuality has always been in question.  Neutered for the sensitivity of little girls everywhere, it’s unlikely he'll ever father a child.  Though there was the controversial pregnancy of Barbie’s friend Midge in 2002.  Midge was pulled from Walmart shelves for being too realistic.
  “It wasn’t me!” says Ken.  “But I’m not so sure about Joe.”
G.I. Joe a long time rival of Ken’s had this to say.  “Ken’s a boy toy for little girls.  I’m a boy’s toy.  Big difference.  I’m too busy fighting Cobra to knock up some Barbie.”
  With the trademark scar on his right cheek and branded on his butt cheek, no one will ever call G.I. Joe a doll.  Hasbro debuted the action figure in 1964 with cool names like “Rocky” the Soldier, “Skip” the Sailor and “Ace” the Pilot, but it was the name Joe that stuck.  G.I. stands for Government Issue, a term long used by the U.S. Military.  Antiwar sentiments of the late 60’s and early 70’s meant Joe had to lay down his weapons and pursue other adventures for a time.  “That’s when I really got into archeology and big game hunting,” Joe says of his hobbies.
  But it was the rise of another hobby--martial arts--that brought G.I. Joe recognition.  In 1974 he debuted his trademark Kung Fu GripTM.  And in 1976 it was his Eagle EyeTM that got the attention.  “While Ken was perfecting his disco moves, I was honing my fighting skills.”
  You won’t catch Joe doing the Electric Slide, but he has always been the more posable of the two.  Both figures stand 11.5 inches tall, though Joe claims to be 12 inches.  He appears somewhat smaller to me.  I know my Barbies could never wear his uniforms.  Do I need to break out the tape measure?  In the 1980’s he shrunk to half his size.  “Hey, it was called the cold war for a reason.”
  Obviously Ken isn’t the only sensitive guy.
Chill, Joe.  We know all about the cold war.  Haven’t you ever heard it’s not the size of the package?  (Shh…don’t tell him all of womankind is lying.  This is a PG rated forum so we won't go there.)  Thankfully, Joe was repackaged to his original, 12 inches in the 1990’s.
  While we’re stuck in the 90’s why not ENJOY THE RIDE down memory lane in a Nissan Z or Pathfinder to 1997 with these two commercials featuring music by Kiss and Van Halen.  The commercials, using  look-a-likes. highlighted the rivalry and what little girls have known since Joe came along in 1964.  Barbie loves plastic men.  And plastic men love her.
  Mattel sued Nissan and the two companies settled out of court.
How did the commercial affect Barbie’s reputation and Ken’s image?  “Everybody knows it was all in fun,” says Joe whose popularity soared.  So how does Joe feel about the couple getting back together?  “She’s better off with him.  I’m really more of a loner.”  Though he’s quick to add he has his team.        Some say Joe is the real reason for the 2004 break up.  That Barbie wanted to spend more time with him between his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  In 2009 Joe returned to the States and had his own movie success with G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, starring Channing Tatum.  “He’s much younger,” says the 47-year-old, Joe.  “But I’m better looking.”
  Joe what advice would you give Ken for his 50th birthday?  "Buddy, quit trying on the sissy clothes and put on a uniform."  
    Ken, do you have any relationship advice for Joe?  Turns out Ken is full of advice courtesy of Pixar. 

  Thanks guys for sparking this little girl’s imagination.  Thanks also to Mattel® and Hasbro® for this walk down memory lane.  Congratualtions to Pixar® and Toy Story 3 on your Academy Award® win! 

    Nissan®, what can I say.  I liked your commercials.  Thanks for taking the ride.

     Joe, what can I say, you held that place of honor on my desk for years (in your frogman gear) as I wrote those first Navy SEAL books.

    Happy 50th Brithday to Ken!  You were always my first boyfriend.  But I'm glad you're back together with Barbie.

Here comes the disclaimer. Barbie®, Ken® and G.I. Joe® are registered trademarks.  I trust I haven’t infringed on any of your reputations with this playful history.   Love you guys.

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